Youth Justice In the Midst of COVID-19

Thanks to the dedication of the state agencies, the Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee, and organizations throughout the state working with our youth, we are able to provide you with some resources on how the facilities and programs in the juvenile justice system are coping with the challenges of COVID-19.

CT Government
Public Services
Provides all updates concerning ongoing COVID-19 crisis

Department of Children and Families

Assessing Child Abuse/Neglect in a Remote Environment

Department of Housing
Housing/Homeless services, rental assistance
Immediate stay of execution of all evictions and ejections through May 1st, upcoming foreclosure sales are pushed back until June. Also includes links to pages for CT Coalition to End Homelessness, CT Housing Finance Authority, Department of Banking, Fair Housing Center and Fannie Mae for their assistance programs during the COVID-19 outbreak

Department of Housing and Urban Development – New England Region
Housing/Homeless services, rental assistance, disaster assistance, economic development, housing discrimination | Notice
Staff is working remotely at all New England offices, therefore please call/email your local office for all HUD assistance/needs. 2nd link directs users to FAQ/factsheet surrounding HUD and COVID-19

Department of Labor
Employment/Unemployment services
Provides employees with information about filing for unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis and employers with guidelines laying off employees/rehiring, as well as following orders from the state gov. about business shutdowns and restricted hours.

Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS)
Mental health, substance abuse, addiction
Non-essential employees are working from home per state order, DMHAS enacted its Incident Command Structure, provided structure for telework, banned visitors for 30 days, ensuring that treatments continue while promoting social distancing.

Department of Motor Vehicles
Vehicle registration, license renewal, ID services
Beginning March 18th, all DMV branch offices are closed to the public, DMV will provide services online, through phone, and by mail. Driving schools can train online, 90 day extension on all expiring DMV credentials including licenses, emmissions tests, etc.

Office of Child’s Advocate (OCA)
Advocacy, prevention, detection
COVID-19 Requests
Took part in inter-agency letter to CT gov asking for emergency plan in regard to youth involved with the JJ and CJ systems. Non-essential employees will work from home per state order.

Office of Policy and Management (OPM)
Data collection/reporting
Non-essential employees are working from home per state order, link on OPM site to CT state page concering COVID-19.

Office of the Chief Public Defender
Litigation, legal advocacy
Non-essential employees are working from home per state order, there will only be one courthouse open in each judicial district for the time being. Emergency number is provided in case lawyers can not be contacted at this time.

Office of the Chief State’s Attorney
Litigation, legal advocacy
Non-essential employees are working from home per state order. We have a rotating skeleton crew working in the Hartford and Bridgeport juvenile courts to handle mandatory hearings such as initial detention hearings and detention review hearings. All other non-mandatory hearings are postponed. Most meetings have been postponed. We are communicating by phone and email.


State Department of Education (SDE)
Non-essential employees are working from home per state order, 2 meal programs were authorized to offer lunches to youth in the State. School districts should expect to continue remote learning for at least 30 days.

Manson Youth Institute (MYI)
As of 4/1/2020, there were a total of 42 youth housed at MYI. There are currently six youth who would be considered medically compromised. Weekly check in is conducted to ensure that all needs are met, and youth are not symptomatic. Medication compliance is also monitored. The medical discharge planner is ensuring that all needs are met, and referrals are made prior to discharge. Medical/mental health, addiction services, education/vocation, housing and employment referral assessments are conducted. This practice was in place prior to the current crisis and currently continues. Mental health staff tour daily on each shift. Individualized sessions are conducted when necessary. All juveniles are checked and have access to one-on-one meetings if needed.
MYI staff, who also work with the adult population, are reviewing cases of the 8 sentenced youth to determine who is eligible for release into the community and ensuring supports are in place. The Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division would determine the release of unsentenced offenders (140 accused adults and 36 accused youth). 7 youth have been released so far from MYI in the past 2 weeks. They are currently reviewing inmates who are already eligible for community release for a 45-day reentry furlough. The Department has a dedicated Community Release Unit which is responsible for identifying and assessing all suitable/eligible candidates for community release. They will continue to work diligently throughout this crisis.
The Department, along with telephone service provider, SECURUS, will provide 2 free additional phone calls. They are also looking at the possibility of increasing the amount of free phone calls and exploring video phone calls and navigating through the technological barriers. State schoolteachers are currently not in the facility based on pandemic crisis response. They are collaborating with the State Department of Education to assist in the delivery of educational opportunities to all students in the district. All staff are checking in with residents daily throughout their shifts. The climate among the population is very good at this time. No maximum dollar amount restriction on commissary for general population offenders. All basic hygiene, food/snack, recreational and spiritual needs are offered for any inmate who cannot afford them at no cost. Exploring providing enhanced meals, additional snacks, and recreational options to all of the residents.
Detention Centers
There are currently 34 youth in Bridgeport detention center and 23 youth in Hartford detention center. Beginning 3/13/20, entrance to the detention centers was limited to staff and medical and mental health contractors. 3 juveniles tested positive for COVID-19 in Hartford: 1 negative, 4 pending. 1 juvenile was tested in Bridgeport: negative result. Admissions to Hartford detention have been suspended as of 3/31/20. Education program was modified to be consistent with the school districts. The youth are receiving educational packets to complete on a daily basis (collected by education provider and credit will be assigned as appropriate). The youth are being monitored very closely for any and all symptomatic signs of the virus and are receiving high quality healthcare by both medical and mental health practitioners. Any juvenile displaying symptoms is isolated on the designated isolation unit, where they are closely monitored and attended to by medical staff under the direction of the Medical Director. Only one unit has experienced infection; that unit has been quarantined. Staff are being screened (asked to answer the COVID-19 screening questions) before entering. Medical assistants take each employee’s temperature before they enter the Center (not allowed to enter if they have any symptoms and/or a fever). All new admissions are quarantined for 14 days, consistent with DPH guidelines. Each admission is screened for COVID-19. For juveniles answering “yes” to any screening questions, isolation protocol is followed. For releases, nurse does a symptom check and temperature check the evening before and the morning of release, and no symptomatic juveniles are released to another congregate care setting.
Medical staff is reviewing the situation at the facility and educating parents/guardians of released youth about how to check for symptoms. Juvenile Probation and Residential Services management is closely examining each juvenile in the Detention Centers to identify those who can be safely released without a risk to public safety. Individualized release plans are being developed and presented to the court at weekly Detention Review hearings (still take place through video conferencing). All new admissions are being strictly screened to ensure that only those whose level of risk to public safety cannot be managed in the community are admitted.
Department of Children and Families (DCF)
DCF offices were temporarily shut down in certain locations due to close proximity to NY, but the other remaining offices are open. 81% of the staff has ability to work remotely. When remote options aren’t sufficient, in-person services are still available, with precautions. For youth in congregate/residential programs, contacts with family are available through internet communication and phone calls. DCF established an agency COVID email and website for providers and families on new guidelines, restrictions, etc. 8,000 visits have been recorded to the website so far, and frequent updates are made.
Youth in the Community
Connecticut Youth Services Association (CYSA) reached out to all local Youth Service Bureaus/Juvenile Review Boardss regarding their status. About 50% of locations have responded. Offices are not open to the public and staff are either working in the office or remotely at home. Some services are still available with modified delivery, while other services are unavailable due to limitations. Less than 1/3 of JRBs are accepting new youth at this time. CYSA is in contact with DCF to help ease concerns about resources, funding, and programming. Continued engagement with local education agencies to ensure they are on same page with educational programming
The Emergency Meal Program is comprised of 129 schools, with 407 locations statewide. Schools’ website/social media contains updates on locations of meals. 39 after-school locations were approved to distribute meals (SUPPER Program). Parents can now pick up meals for youth instead of needing the youth present, and multiple meals can be picked up at once. Some districts are also providing weekend meals, and some are using school buses to distribute meals to apartment complexes/school bus stops. Applications are underway for a program that would provide youth who qualify for free meals to receive a “debit” card with dollar amount sufficient for a day’s worth of meals.